Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

The buck passed

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Jan 07, 2005

Bishop Joseph Adamec, of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, ordinarily isn't afraid to throw his weight around. As a number of conservative, orthodox, and/or traditionalist Catholics have learned, Bishop Adamec is ready and willing to denounce his critics; if he can, he'll follow up with ecclesiastical discipline.

So the faithful in Pennsylvania might have been set aback by a January 3 letter from their bishop.

A bit of background: The Altoona diocese, like many others, has required Catholic children to participate in a program about sexual abuse. Some parents have objected, arguing that the program is inappropriate for children and that the real problem is not the failure to educate students about abuse, but the failure to curb abusive priests.

Those parents are right; but for my present purposes, that's beside the point. What fascinates me is the bishop's indirect response to their complaints. Note particularly the passage in italics-- which was not highlighted in the original:

All children enrolled in our Catholic Schools and those attending Religious Education Programs within our Diocese must be offered the Teaching Touching Safety Program. The school program is to be completed by March. That for religious education students must be completed by May…

Allow me to repeat myself. This is not new information to you. Neither you nor I have an option in this matter.

It's true, no doubt, that lay people have no option here. That's Bishop Adamec's regular approach, and he won't let Vatican directives or the Code of Canon Law curb his style.

But when he says that he has no option, he's talking nonsense. The bishop is the boss in his own diocese. Period. We would have thought that Bishop Adamec would be the first to recognize that fact.

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